Mistakes were made. There’s no other way to characterize what happened when CNN’s legal analyst Arvea Martin began to attack Fox Nation host David Webb’s character. The two were having a heated debate and Martin tried to dismiss Webb’s argument as “white privilege.” The moment backfired, in a big way. David Webb is not white.
This was radio, and not live TV, so Martin wasn’t able to see Webb. As such, she may have been working on assumptions.
“Areva, I hate to break it to you, but you should’ve been better prepped. I’m black,” Webb said.
“The embarrassing moment occurred during a discussion about experience being more important than race when determining whether or not someone is qualified for a particular job,” Fox writes, reveling in the chance to expose their competitor’s shortcomings.
“I’ve chosen to cross different parts of the media world, done the work so that I’m qualified to be in each one. I never considered my color the issue, I considered my qualifications the issue,” Webb argued.
Martin, though, wasn’t convinced that he was qualified at all, and chalked up his success to his race.
“That’s a whole, another long conversation about white privilege,” she said, “the things that you have the privilege of doing, that people of color don’t have the privilege of.”
Webb seemed momentarily confused. “How do I have the privilege of white privilege?” he asked.
Martin, ready and willing to expound upon her theory that Webb is where he is for one reason alone, explained the rather simple concept to him. “David,” she said condescendingly, “by virtue of being a white male you have white privilege.”
The news that he was actually white might have come as a shock to Webb, but he seemed to handle it in stride. He was decent enough to correct Martin there, though, and didn’t allow her to dig her proverbial hole any deeper.
After he told her that he was black, Martin was momentarily shaken. “I stand corrected,” she said.
Having lost what she perceived as the moral high ground, Martin had to find a way to account for her egregious error. Her entire angle of attack had been upended by her mistake.
Webb took the advantage. He called her “white privilege” comment an assumption and held it up as evidence of sloppy research. Then he got a bit personal. “That’s actually insulting,” Webb said.
“It is and I apologize,” Martin agreed. “I was given wrong information.” She was given the wrong information. By whom, and for what reason is still unclear.